The baseball season invokes the familiar clichés, "America's favorite pastime" and "all-American as mom and apple pie." But is there more to the sport than recreation? asks LSU AgCenter 4-H youth volunteer expert Dr. Janet Fox.
The answer, she says, is yes, citing recent research. The CIRCLE Institute (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) has explored the effect that sports participation can have on the civic engagement of young people. Its studies found that young people who are involved in sports report higher levels of voting, volunteering and engagement in their community than those who do not participate in sports.
CIRCLE conducts, collects and funds research on the civic and political participation of young Americans. It is based in the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy.
Fox says young people who participated in sports activities during their high school years were more likely than nonsport participants to have volunteered. Thirty-two percent of young people who played sports volunteered compared to 21 percent who didn't engage in sports. The majority of youth who participated in sports registered to vote, but only 40 percent of nonsport participants registered to vote. When it came to voting, 44 percent of young people who engaged in sports voted compared to 33 percent of youth who didn't participate in sports. Forty-one percent of youth sport participants followed the news closely while 26 percent of nonsport participants didn't.